from-aruba-on-an-iceberg-wedge Recipes

aruba + a blue cheese iceberg wedge

If there is one thing that Alex has shown me the light of over the course of our relationship–but fortunately, there are many, including ribs, pickles, bourbon and skiing–it’s the consummate beauty of a vacation that entails absolutely nothing. No water skiing, no scuba diving, no afternoon of shopping, no conga lines: just hours upon hours on the beach, tearing through one book at a time. Can you imagine how awful this must be after months of doing things and being ‘on’ and producing things of value for other people in exchange for earning a living? I’ll tell you, it’s a big adjustment.

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Day one is always a little bewildering; we find ourselves saying “Wow, a whole week?” “Seven DAYS of this?” and “What will we do with ourselves?” a lot. Day two we start settling into the beach life–barefoot, sunscreened, our winter coats looking ridiculous hanging in the room’s closet–and make some dents in our books. By day three, however, we’re pretty used to it all: the bluest–aqua, really–ocean we have ever seen, silky white sand, absurd 3 p.m. cocktails called the Tropicolada and the uncanny ability to take a long post-cocktail nap despite having slept 10 hours the night before, and this is where everything descents into a haze. Without a singular event or laughable attempt at productivity that will serve as a demarcation between the days, we tend to blink twice and its day seven. We wonder how our families are doing. We ponder what plans we have made for the weekend we return.

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That is, under the best of circumstances. However, this vacation, this last step–the one when we begin to miss little parts of our regular lives–went terribly awry, and I blame a lot of this on those evil Heavenly Beds they have branded at Westin Hotels. It’s just not fair. I used to love our pillow-top bed, our thick feather duvets and our down pillows but since I’ve been home, they’ve been a constant source of disappointment: my sleep experience has been ruined. But that’s not all; this weather has been unseemly and in the greatest of indignities I have had to suffer through, its noon now and not a single waiter has offered to deliver a Tropicolada to my part of the sofa. I cannot believe I am expected to subsist under these conditions.

aruba sunsetaruba sunsetday eightcoming home

Alas, this is the part where I am supposed to tell you about the Aruban cookbook I dutifully picked up at a gift store with mouth-watering recipes for fried plantains, coconut cake and pigeon pea stew and alarming ones for iguana soup, or at the very least, provide you with an approximation of a recipe for that tropical cocktail, but I’ve got none of that for you today because when I came home from vacation, all I craved was a classic iceberg wedge salad. Yes, like the steakhouse kind–by land and not sea. What can I say? My cravings defy logic. Bring me a Heavenly Bed and a coconut rum cocktail and I might be willing to discuss my inconsistencies.

bacon sizzlingroquefort

Until then, this recipe is flawless in its own right. With or without crumbled crispy bacon, I have always had a soft spot for these types of salad, likely harkening back to the days when they, along with a side order of broiled mushrooms and steamed asparagus, were all I consumed at steakhouses. I know iceberg is the lowliest member of the lettuce family and that blue cheese dressing was supposed to have gone out of style with flannels but I think we all know how well that’s going, so I say dig in. Nothing screams Seven Days Until Salad Season like a bacon salad!

iceberg wedges with blue cheese dressingiceberg wedges with blue cheese dressing

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it!

Muchos gracias: To my sister for keeping an eye on the smittenkitchen while we were away, so we could rest assured that it neither blew up nor left you all hanging while we hit the beach.

Blue Cheese Dressing
Adapted from several sources

Use this dressing on wedges of iceberg or another crisp lettuce or omit the buttermilk and serve it as a dip with crudites.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups of dressing

1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces crumbled firm blue cheese (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Blend buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Add blue cheese and pulse until cheese is incorporated but dressing is still slightly chunky. Transfer to a bowl and stir in chives.

Do ahead: Keeps, covered and chilled, for one week, though we’ve yet to test that theory.

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53 comments on aruba + a blue cheese iceberg wedge

  1. Jessica

    I’m so glad you’re back – yesterday, I was doing my hair and as sometimes happens when both of my hands are tied up and I have nothing to distract me, my mind wandered. And it wandered in the direction of what if something happens to Deb and Alex on vacation?!?!?!? How can my thighs go on?!?!?!?

    Thanks so much for the amazing shortbread recipe – my second pan is cooling on the counter right now. Welcome home!

  2. joylynn

    I’ve been to Aruba myself, and hope to go back someday. Thanks for helping me keep the memories alive. Also, this week I’ve made the delicious chicken & dumplings and 5 batches of homemade oreos. They were both a huge hit. You have made me look like a great cook. So thanks for that too & Happy Holidays!

  3. Here in Nashville, Tennnessee this salad is legendary. It’s called a Faucon Salad and you can just imagine the slaughtering of the English language when people order it. It is one of those things that is a craving, that comes upon you slowly..and then when you want it, nothing else will do!

  4. I cannot possibly express my jealous. Every January my family and I used to spend 10 days at the Westin in Aruba (I, however, generally opted to pack the days with scuba diving) but I haven’t been able to take the time off since starting graduate school.
    Had someone told me that getting a Ph.D. would mean sacrificing Aruba, I’m pretty sure I would have modified my career plans.

  5. Iceberg lettuce is my favorite! There, I said it. I was a child in the 70’s, it’s not my fault. I also don’t really think I’m at a party if they aren’t serving celery stuffed with cream cheese… ahh the days of avocado colored appliances…

  6. Lydia

    Welcome back! I have never been to Aruba but your gorgeous photos transport me there instantly. I made the shortbread raspberry cookies yesterday, and they were divine. I’ve never enjoyed a butter cookie so much! Thanks as always for the site.

  7. Oh Deb, I know what you mean about adjusting to the laziness after months upon months of work, work, work. Although I’m certainly not in sunny Aruba, I’m still enjoying my two-and-a-half weeks of lazing about (though I might cheat a bit and work on an article for the school paper!)

  8. Jelena

    I just finished exams and it’s the weirdest thing to sit around and have nothing to do. There’s no readings, no essays, no cramming. I feel like any second now something will be due! Aruba sounds so amazing! Compared to the ice block that is now Canada it’s probably heaven on earth.

  9. Cecilia

    Merry Christmas Deb!!! Hope you and your family have the BESTEST Christmas and New Year …

    Thank you for your time and effort for posting up all the tantalising food recipes on your blog (I mean..noone ..yes NOONE can do a better job than you – in terms of your superb photography AND posts *i love your style of writing…and oh the HUMOR!!!* :) so….well done deb!!)

    Hope you’ll have a great new year and hope that santa will bless you with whatever that’s on your wishlish!! ^_____^

  10. Yay! So glad your back. Did you solve the mystery of Natalee Holloway? I am returning from CT on Wednesday, lets do drinks or something? And take pictures!

    xoxo
    joce

  11. hahaha…. okay… can’t decide if you are back or still holidaying… if you are still on a beach…I wish you sand on your drumstick! If you are back…condolences….

    Either way…I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas…and say tx for all the wonderful recipes and info…and for a fun read.

  12. I haven’t been to Aruba but your lovely photos sure do make me want to make a trip there. I agree–nothing better than sitting on a beach with a book. I always have to have an umbrella for shade being one of those who can’t tan, but it is my idea of a perfect vacation.

  13. Laura

    Sounds like a lovely holiday. My 8 year old daughter and I baked your peanut butter cookies last night for Santa. They were devine. Santa left nothing but crumbs. Thanks!

  14. Larry

    Welcome back – glad you had a good time – great photos, good technically but I envy that “eye” that can compose shots like these – well done!!
    Saw a cute and very PC Holiday greeting that I will share “Happy Hanukwanzmas”

  15. Thanks for allowing me/us to vacation vicariously through you. What could be better than enjoying pictures from a tropical vacation and getting a delicious recipe for a wedge? Well being in Aruba of course, but this is a close second. Thanks!

  16. That sounds like a great holiday. Beautiful pictures, btw. I went with my sister to Myrtle beach state park (albeit camping and not at a hotel) for five days over fall break with much the same attitude about *not having to do anything at all.* And it was awesome. Reading on the beach, hearing the waves crash and fall, is the best. Although we totally failed to produce a suitable campfire so we could toast marshmallows and blacken a few hotdogs. The most we got was some wisps of smoke and some charred paper. >.

  17. kasey

    I just made your raspberry shortbread (but I substituted strawberry jam because that’s what I had). :-) It was SOOOOOO DELICIOUS! It definitely made grating it by hand worth it. SOOOO GOOD! Thank you for the awesome recipe. Definitely a keeper.

  18. tanja

    Welcome back. Aruba seems like a place to be – great photos! Thank you (and your sister) for keeping the site updated. The recipes were just what I needed, well the raspberry shortbread for sure. Let me also wish you a happy New Year and all the best!

  19. Katie

    I’ve been making your recipes like crazy around here. Those World Peace cookies? Oh my. Just wonderful. Last night I made the blue cheese dressing and it was awesome, too. Thanks!

  20. lady d

    i just wanted to say that i made your blue cheese dressing this past weekend and it positively rocked my world, and the world of everyone i served it to. thanks!

  21. LIa

    I love Aruba, stay at Playa Linda every year. Can you say Sate Sauce? Especially on french fries. I’ve never been able to get it as good as in Aruba. When I go in June I am going to look for the place outside of Oragestad that advertises “the best peanut sauce on the island”. Can’t wait….

  22. Erin

    Well, I finally got around to making this dressing tonight (I know, I know…only five months later…). It was awesome! A total cinch and completely delicious. You get all the tangy creaminess without the heavy, gloppy, super-rich effect you get from a lot of similar blue cheese dressings.

    Another winner, Deb! Thanks!

  23. Aladyinredpolish

    This dressing turned out amazing. I would reccommend it to everyone. I didnt have chives on hand but it still was fantastic. I made my own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup milk. Turned out amazing and good quality.

  24. Aaron

    What a fun and tastey salad. It was easy to make and a quirky way to start a pasta meal. Our guests really enjoyed it.
    Thanks!
    Aaron

  25. jeri

    Deb-

    I love ‘sk’, and tend to lurk, but I just had to post since I never buy blue cheese dressing. I make the exact same recipe, adapted from the Point Reyes blue cheese web site, only I use _non-fat_ yogurt in place of the buttermilk (no really, try it someday, your thighs will thank you), all the tang and creaminess but lower in fat. I have also ben known to use light mayonaise too, since I always have this dressing on hand.

    I have a blue cheese dressing addiction I guess, so I needed a way to keep it a bit trimmer while still enjoying the blue cheese goodness.

  26. Slim

    I just ate salad at 10:30 in the morning because I love this dressing so much.

    And, to jeri, this tastes great with nonfat buttermilk, if you’re worried about fat.

  27. Marion

    I just want to say wow i love your recipes and cant wait to try a bunch of them .. they all look so good and so easy .. i have the fried chicken marinating as i type this and cant wait to cook it .. and i also cant wait for your cook book to come out .. i want to be able to have it in the kitchen with me .. looking forward to it .. :)

    1. deb

      I would cut it into wedges, dunk them in a bowl of very cold water, pulling them out so any debris falls to the bottom, then drain them sideways on towels for a while, so hopefully all the water runs out.

  28. ReReAnn

    I used dill instead of chives, doubled the mayo, and added 1/4 cup of sour cream….and it was even better!!!! Thanks for the great recipe.

  29. Mary Ann

    I needed a dressing for a chunk of blue cheese and came to your site looking. Wow! Definitely a keeper! It was good before the addition of the blue cheese and superb after. Thank you!

  30. Carolyn

    I love this dressing, and have made it several times over the past few years. The first day it’s delicious and thick and creamy and perfectly lovely. The second day, however, without fail, it’s watery – like milk, with bits of blue cheese. Have you experienced this? What can I do? The only deviation I make from the recipe is to use minced shallot instead of minced garlic (I’m allergic) but that shouldn’t make a difference!

    1. deb

      The shallot does contain more water, so that could be it. You might try to make it with less buttermilk, in anticipation of thinning (even if it would be thicker the first day).

  31. Very proud to say that I am team Iceberg and wrote about it in the link ^^ There’s several food writers quoted in it, most of them team Iceberg, some [poor misguided souls] are not. It’s partly a textural thing, as one says, the clean milky-vegetal feel of the Iceberg leaf in a burger and it also stands up to those runny and creamy dressings that turn other lettuces into slime.

  32. Melissa

    I too am an iceberg purist. My favorite wedge salad contains dates and toasted pecans. They completely replace the need for bacon. Sounds weird and sacrilegious but it’s incredible.

  33. The iceberg wedge with is excellent! My only criticism pertains to the comment on flannel. I buy flannel clothing from L.L. Bean and suggest you all give their product a good look. The PJs and robes are very comfy on chilly nights. The traditional flannel patterns sold by L.L. Bean are perfect for sitting around the fireplace on a cold New England (or NYC) night. The L.L. Bean flannel shirts include new patterns as well as traditional patterns which look great. The quality of the cloth is unmatched. It is a brushed woven yarn-dyed fabric not a printed pattern! Comfy cotton flannel is always in style if worn in the correct setting and season. I only wish someone would start making great quality flannel here in the USA.

  34. deb

    William J — My favorite thing about this is that this post is 7 years old and how ridiculous it seemed 7 years ago that grunge, the defining look of my high school/college years, could be back in style. Or iceberg salads. We’re almost after the wave on both of these things now (well, not in my kitchen, re: iceberg salad, but we were never hip to begin with).